MAYWOOD, IL – More than 40,000 runners from around the world will take to the streets of Chicago this Sunday for the 40th anniversary of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
James Winger, MD, offers the following advice for marathon runners, both new and old. Dr. Winger is part of Loyola Medicine's team of sports medicine specialists, which includes sports medicine doctors, orthopaedic surgeons, primary care doctors, athletic trainers and physical therapists who provide services to prevent injuries, maintain physical health and optimize performance.
Monitor your food and water intake in the days before the marathon
Stick to familiar foods. Now is not the time to try something different. While everyone remembers to fill up on carbohydrates, like pasta, don't forget to add some protein in the 48 – 72 hours before race day. Avoid all alcohol consumption at least the night before the race.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast
"If marathon day is forecast to be warm, expect to run slower," Dr. Winger said. "Adjust your pace and race goals, especially when temperatures rise. Warm days are not made for personal records."
Keep hydrated - but not too much
Over-hydration can pose serious threats to runners. "The guideline is to drink when you're thirsty, not before," Dr. Winger said.
Hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when fluid intake exceeds your rate of fluid loss from sweating, results in abnormally low blood-sodium levels. When this happens, the body’s water levels rise and cells begin to swell. Race participants who experience symptoms of nausea, dizziness, chest pain or disorientation should seek medical attention immediately.
Don't skip on recovery
After crossing the finish line, be sure to stretch thoroughly and ice any areas that are sore. It may be tempting to sit around the rest of the day, but moving around helps muscle recovery. Eat a meal that is high in protein to help repair muscle damage and start your recovery phase.
Avoid the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) until after you finish the race, you are able to drink without nausea or vomiting and you have urinated once.
Contact your doctor if you have any lingering soreness two weeks after the race.
Good luck to all Chicago Marathon runners!